Segmented flow coil equilibrator coupled to a proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometer for measurements of a broad range of volatile organic compounds in seawater
We present a technique that utilises a segmented flow coil equilibrator coupled to a proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometer to measure a broad range of dissolved volatile organic compounds. Thanks to its relatively large surface area for gas exchange, small internal volume, and smooth headspace–water separation, the equilibrator is highly efficient for gas exchange and has a fast response time (under 1 min). The system allows for both continuous and discrete measurements of volatile organic compounds in seawater due to its low sample water flow (100 cm3 min−1) and the ease of changing sample intake. The equilibrator setup is both relatively inexpensive and compact. Hence, it can be easily reproduced and installed on a variety of oceanic platforms, particularly where space is limited. The internal area of the equilibrator is smooth and unreactive. Thus, the segmented flow coil equilibrator is expected to be less sensitive to biofouling and easier to clean than membrane-based equilibration systems. The equilibrator described here fully equilibrates for gases that are similarly soluble or more soluble than toluene and can easily be modified to fully equilibrate for even less soluble gases. The method has been successfully deployed in the Canadian Arctic. Some example data from underway surface water and Niskin bottle measurements in the sea ice zone are presented to illustrate the efficacy of this measurement system.